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 A charming, sentimental first novel about a young man's journey into golf heaven. A 20-year-old duffer sneaks onto a San Francisco golf course and begins to have the round of his life. When he follows his ball into the misty woods, he finds himself on the ultimate golf course in the sky. Here most of golf's legends--from 19th-century Scottish champions Tom Morris and his son to famed course architect Alistair MacKenzie to 1920s and '30s star Bobby Jones, not to mention Bing Crosby--are happily frozen in time, each one playing at their peak and on the course of their choice, all of which, as if magically, are out the back door of the same club house. In charge is a 400- year-old Scottish shepherd who has brought the young man to this cosmic country club for a talk with the newest prospective member, Ben Hogan. It seems that the legendarily compulsive and perfectionist Hogan wishes to replay the 1955 US Open, which he lost in a playoff to unknown driving range pro Jack Fleck. Everyone in golf heaven simply plays for the joy of playing; they all fear that if Hogan gets a rematch the club's magic will be broken, and the whole setup will vanish. Hogan, who never had time to sire a child, will only listen to the son he never had--this modern, fatherless young man from San Francisco--who reteaches him how to have fun on the links. The thin plot is stretched by much zen-and- the-art-of-golf musings, and the writing is sometimes gushy and awkward (``Now it was my eyes that sparkled''), yet the aptly named author's wide-eyed enthusiasm for golf's history, lore, and joy is infectious. Affecting portrait of a dreamlike world sure to be embraced by all avid golfers and everyone who wishes to understand their obsession.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-671-51058-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995